Free morning yoga classes held three times per week
Free coffee and doughnuts served each morning in the hotel’s common space
Free parking and Wi-Fi
No in-room coffeemakers
Bathrooms are tiny
Daily resort fee
Kauai Shores, an Aqua Hotel is a funky, budget-friendly hotel on Kauai’s eastern coast. With its brightly colored exterior and interior spaces, hip retro-inspired design, and cool, laid-back atmosphere, Kauai Shores is an attractive spot for all kinds of travelers. Here families, young couples, and backpackers lounge around the hotel’s two pools, hit the beach, or enjoy free morning yoga classes on the property’s massive green lawn. The 200 rooms are colorful and bright, with modern tropical decor. Lava Lava Beach Club -- a popular Big Island outpost -- serves fresh fish dishes beachside. The free parking, morning coffee, and Wi-Fi aren’t really free when one considers the pesky, daily resort fee, but Kauai Shores is still hands-down the best budget-friendly option in Kapaa. If being within walking distance of downtown is a necessity, consider Hotel Coral Reef, but know that its rooms and amenities aren’t as nice.
Composed of four, two-story buildings -- Lei, Lani, Mauka, and Maile -- Kauai Shores is a smaller property but with a spread-out feel. Wide green lawns and tall palms lead directly to the shore, where the waves are rough but the skyline offers stunning mountain vistas. The crowd here is a mixed bag. Guests range from families toting young children, to older couples on anniversary trips, to European backpackers exploring North America -- the commonality between them being a need for inexpensive lodgings on Kauai. The atmosphere here is abuzz with communal liveliness. Throughout the day guests can be seen grabbing a morning cup of coffee in the lobby, lounging by the pool in the afternoon, and hanging around the communal barbecues in the evening. A pervading sense of friendliness can be felt throughout, and many guests, who did not know one another upon arrival, end up greeting each other by name after a few days. Just don't expect someone handing you a lei upon arrival, or activities such as a nightly luau and beginner’s hula lessons.
From Kuhio Highway, Kauai Shores is almost impossible to spot. Just off Kapaa’s main drag, Kaui Shores sits on the quiet Papaloa Road, immediately adjacent to the Coconut Coast Marketplace. Kapaa, a scrappy little beach town on Kauai’s eastern coast, isn’t as polished as other resort towns such as Princeville or Poipu, but has a charming, local quality of its own. A 15-minute drive from the airport, Kapaa is also an ideal, centrally located spot for travelers looking to explore different parts of the island. Downtown is composed of cute coffee shops, mediocre restaurants, and conveniences like a bank and an ABC store. Unfortunately, Kauai Shores isn’t within walking distance -- it's about a seven-minute drive away. Shops and restaurants at the Coconut Marketplace are right next door. While it's a bit more touristy than downtown, there are several good restaurants and bars within the complex.
Bursting with color and a sense of retro cool, rooms at Kauai Shores go above and beyond the duties of a budget hotel room. Hues of orange, aqua blue, and lime green enliven the white-walled rooms while adding a bit of tropical flair. Bulbous glass lamps, simple streamlined furniture, and funky curved lounge chairs carry out the hotel’s subtle retro vibe. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, Playstation 3s, electronic safes, and mini-fridges. Desk space is limited, and shared by the TV, so it isn’t ideal for anyone who’s looking for a quality work space. Rooms have full-length mirrors, irons, ironing boards, and ample closet space, but the absence of in-room coffeemakers is a letdown. Bathrooms are pretty tiny, with white tile floors, white walls, and white shower/tub combos. Single sinks are encased by black granite, but there’s hardly any counter space. The shower taps can be a bit confusing, and temperature control can be iffy sometimes. All rooms have balconies or patios, but noise from the air-conditioning units makes sitting outside is anything but peaceful.
Two pools, annoying resort fee, and a beachside restaurant
Kauai Shores has two pools. The larger of the two is adjacent to the hotel’s huge green lawn in the center of the property. This pool has ocean views and is surrounded by a stone patio and several hunter green lounge chairs. Bright green and orange umbrellas are available for anyone who might prefer a little shade. One of the hotel’s two barbecue areas sits behind the main pool’s patio. The second, smaller pool is wedged between two buildings father from the shoreline. It’s tiny, but often less crowded than its larger counterpart. The second barbecue area is located behind the smaller pool. Kauai Shores offers guests free parking, Wi-Fi, and daily coffee and doughnuts each morning, but also charges a pesky resort fee, rendering its “freebies” not so free.
The hotel also offers free morning yoga classes three times a week -- a nice perk, considering there’s no on-site fitness center. Although the hotel did not have an on-site bar or restaurant during our visit, a Lava Lava Beach Club, a popular Big Island bar and restaurant, has since opened. It serves breakfast, lunch, and the menu includes items such as pineapple fried rice, burgers (ahi and beef), salads, coconut shrimp, and ribs.
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